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Use Your iPhone to Sign a Ballot Initiative: Test Case Launches in CA

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, January 5 2010

If you can sign an electronic pad at the supermarket to pay your credit card bill, why can't you sign the touch-screen of your iPhone to sign a political petition? That question is now being put to the test by the Citizen Power Campaign in California, working with technology developed by a company called Verafirma. The ballot initiative they're working on aims to strip public employee unions of their ability to tap member dues for political activities (a proposal that may not be constitutional) but leave the politics aside; the potential to open a new front in ballot petitioning is what's important.

As far as anyone knows, this is the first time in the U.S. that ballot initiative signatures are being collected using the internet. This initiative is an outgrowth of the Tea Party movement in the state, and so far is relying on volunteers for petition-gathering. The Lincoln Club of Orange County, an older Republican organization founded by businessmen in 1962 is providing financial support. They need about 700,000 verified signatures and are shooting to get their initiative on next November's ballot.

The video below from Verafirma shows how the company's iPhone app works:

The question, of course, is whether the California Secretary of State's office and the courts will uphold this new method of signature gathering. This white paper from Verafirma makes the legal case pretty clearly, though obviously election lawyers will take a closer look.